Grand Imperial Strategy: How the Council on Foreign Relations Carefully Planned the Policies of Modern-day Imperialism

The basic principles of the imperial grand strategy trace back to the early days of the Second World War, and have been reiterated frequently since.

Even before the U.S. entered the war, planners and analysts concluded that in the post-war world the U.S. would seek “to hold unquestioned power,” acting to ensure the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. They outlined “an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States” in a “Grand Area,” to include at a minimum the Western Hemisphere, the former British empire, and the Far East, later extended to as much of Eurasia as possible when it became clear that Germany would be defeated.

Here’s are some quick notes on how the Council on Foreign Relations carefully planned the policies of modern-day imperialism.

Pg. 128:

In mid-October 1940, the Economic and Financial Group drafted a comprehensive concluding memorandum (number E-B19) summarizing its work and drawing out all possible implications for United States policy. The purpose of this recommendation to President Roosevelt and the Department of State was ‘to set forth the political, military territorial and economic requirements of the United States in its potential leadership of the non-German world area including the United Kingdom itself as well as the Western Hemisphere and Far East’.

Pg. 130:

The Council advocated: ‘The foremost requirement of the United States in a world in which it proposes to hold unquestioned power is the rapid fulfillment of a program of complete re-armament’. Japanese expansion possibly endangered the United States preponderance of power in the non-German world. This threat ‘will have to be dissipated through peaceable means if possible, or through force’. Council planners were thus ready to go to war with Japan if that nation threatened American control of the world outside of Continental Europe, an area which they later called the ‘Grand Area’.

Another major element was the ‘coordination and cooperation of the United States with other countries to secure the limitation of any exercise of sovereignty by foreign nations that constitutes a threat to the minimum world area essential for the security and economic prosperity of the United States and the Western Hemisphere.’

It’s rather strange to think that world domination has been a persistent objective of the human race.

Thanks for reading,


Memorandum of the War and Peace Studies Project of the Council on Foreign Relations, with the State Department participation, October 19, 1940. Laurence Shoup & William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust (Monthly Review, 1977), 130ff.

Here’s a link to the full PDF: Imperial Brain Trust, The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy

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